Jessica Domel 2017-09-27 02:31:02
Your next LOL or OMG could cost you up to $100 if placed from behind the wheel. A new law now makes texting while driving illegal across Texas. The legislation, according to State Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland, is designed to save lives. “If you drive down the street in the morning, you’re going to the office, store or whatever, you can see people texting. They’re weaving. They’re not moving at stop lights when it turns green, and we’re having a lot of deaths because of it and a lot of property damage,” Craddick said. For years, Craddick pushed the Texas Legislature to pass the law to make Texas roadways safer for everyone. “I think it’s yours and my right to know that we have safety when we drive out of our driveway,” Craddick said. “Unfortunately, the bus accident that happened this session was a big factor. It brought to light for people not only in our state, but all across the country, that we need to do away with texting while driving.” Thirteen people from the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels were killed in a two-vehicle collision outside Garner State Park on March 29. Witnesses told police the driver of the truck was texting and driving erratically before crashing into the church bus and killing all but one of its occupants. After the collision, Craddick’s bill passed both the House and Senate. It was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on June 6. “Statistics show that 95 percent of people obey a law, and they may not do something that they’re just saying, ‘Well, it’s dangerous.’ Once it becomes a law, 95 percent of the people in the state of Texas obey that law,” Craddick said. “I think it’s going to be a huge factor for the state.” Under the new law, drivers are not allowed to read, write or send an electronic message while operating a vehicle that is in motion. Texting, posting to social media, reading messages and using phone applications like WhatsApp are against the law. Drivers may still use their phones to make calls, unless prohibited by city ordinance, navigate with their phone’s GPS, play music, dial 9-1-1 and use the Waze app to report traffic or navigate. Violations of the law are punishable by a fine from $25-$99 for a first offense. Allowed The following are allowed statewide, unless in a city or county with ordinances prohibiting all cell phone use behind the wheel: • Making regular telephone calls • Using a hands-free device to talk, send and receive text messages • Using the phone’s map program or GPS • Reporting illegal activity • Calling 9-1-1 • Using an application like Waze to navigate through traffic • Reading a message believed to be an emergency • Using a phone’s music function • Relaying work data to a dispatch center (for taxi and garbage truck drivers) Not Allowed The following actions are punishable by a misdemeanor while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle: • Reading, writing and sending text and electronic messages • Posting to social media • Reading social media messages or timelines • Using applications like WhatsApp to send or read messages
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